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Museum Chatter: Dive into Mount Hood’s Legacy at the Museum’s Monthly Social History Happy Hour

By Lloyd Musser

Museum Chatter: Dive into Mount Hood’s Legacy at the Museum’s Monthly Social History Happy Hour

The Museum section of the Mt. Hood Cultural Center & Museum consists of six exhibit galleries. The Mountain Artist Tribute Gallery is the smallest – and often overlooked – gallery. This gallery evolved from a consignment sales gallery offering high-end art made by local artists. Museum visitors enjoyed looking at the art, but sales were minimal. The change to a tribute gallery has been a huge success. The Museum’s collection of art by local artists, dating from 1900 to 2020, is now quite extensive. The collection includes art in various media including paintings in oils and watercolor, prints, carvings, textiles, clay and metal sculptures and glass. All the art has been donated to the museum either by the owner or by the artist themselves. Several outstanding pieces were donated by Wally Mckenzie, who for years would trade dental services for art that he displayed in his Welches office.

Many of the art works in the collection feature local landmarks that serve as historical documentation. One example of this is an oil on canvas painting by Carl Reynolds (1965) of Summit Ski Area as it appeared in 1945. Carl was an art professor as well as a business partner in the Multorpor/Ski Bowl Ski Areas. One of the first paintings donated to the collection is a painting of Mount Hood as viewed from the Clackamas River near Oregon City by Nellie Starr. This artist’s paintings are very realistic in style. Our painting was completed about 1930 and includes minute details like Illumination Rock and actual trees and rocks found at the viewpoint where it was painted. The Nellie Starr painting has been cleaned, but needs a period frame that matches the original style.

The Art Collection includes many objects in other media besides traditional paintings. One object that attracts a lot of closer looks is a portrait of an Native American woman painted on tanned leather. The piece is from the Wally Mckenzie Collection, by the artist Rose Foggin. She used a heated metal nail to burn the image into the leather. This unusual technique allows the artist to create incredible detail, such as individual strains of hair. The artist crafted the frame of wood in the craftsman style and mounted the leather on black felt.

The largest and the smallest objects in the art collection are wood carvings. A wood carving by John Zipprich measures 12 feet long and four feet tall. The carving depicts outdoor recreation on Mount Hood in the 21st century. The carving was originally commissioned by a local business and was on display there for several years. The rustic style of the carving did not fit with the new owner’s décor, thus it was relegated to the dumpster. The Museum preserved it based on an anonymous tip and it now hangs perfectly in the Museum lobby. The smallest object in the Art Collection is a six inch tall carving of a US Army, 10th Mountain Division skier. The skier is mounted on the tip of a broken wooden ski for display purposes. The carving is the work of Glenn Asher, completed when he was stationed at Camp Hale in 1943. Glenn was a local skier and mountain climber who, after World War II, opened the Barlow Trail Furniture Company in Rhododendron.

The Museum’s Art Collection includes more wonderful objects than can be listed in this space. It is impossible to convey the beauty of these works of art with printed words and photographs. We would encourage everyone to visit the Museum and spend some time in the Mountain Artist Tribute Gallery. Visitors will enjoy a visual feast and if they read the plaques they will learn some Mount Hood history as well. Admission to the Museum is free, so come visit soon.

Lloyd Musser is the volunteer curator at the Mt. Hood Cultural Center and Museum. The Museum is located at 88900 E. US 26, Government Camp, Oregon. Open every day 9-5. ph. 503-272-3301

Upcoming Museum Events:
May 18, 7:00 PM
Social History Happy Hour - Videographer Ned Thanhouser, retired Mazama archivist, will present Mount Hood history videos, including Ranger the alpinist dog and Lige Coalman building a fire lookout on the summit of Mount Hood.

June 15, 7:00 PM
Social History Happy Hour. Dr. Seth Moran, of the USGS Cascade Volcano Observatory will answer all your questions about Mount Hood the volcano. Social History Happy Hour is held on the third Saturday of each month. Doors open at 6:30. $5.00 donation asked. Beer, wine, and sodas available for sale.

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